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[Xmca-l] Re: Why Computers Make So Little Difference


Don't computers make a difference by making possible what we are doing now? The printing press has largely been in the hands of a few. Computers, at least as they are today (who remembers mainframes?), make it possible for Everyman to not merely consume text, but also produce it. I find that pretty impressive.


On Mar 9, 2015, at 7:14 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> Halliday says that the tape recorder is probably the second most important
> technological development in linguistics (the printing press, which he
> correctly ascribes to China and not to Gutenberg, is the first). It was
> with the printing press that private reading really became
> practical--reading became an intra-mental activity, a kind of socialized
> inner speech. But it was with the tape recorder that the clear distinctness
> (temporal and lexicogrammatical) between written and spoken speech became
> clear for the first time.
> Nevertheless, the tape recorder has had an impact on pedagogy that is
> almost negligible. In EFL, where I now work, it served to make a huge
> amount of money for the distributors of language laboratories. But language
> laboratories worked by fencing learners into cubicles, and replacing the
> subject-subject relation we find in natural language use with a
> subject-object relation which we find in crude versions of Activity Theory.
> There are now language laboratories lying unused in almost every major
> university on earth.
> Halliday ALSO says this: whenever we try to replace an evolved solution
> (like face to face pedagogy) with a designed or an invented one (like the
> language laboratory, or asynchronous CMC based instruction), the first
> attempt almost always fails. The reason why it fails is that it
> overemphasizes the hardware and underemphasizes the interface. The most
> spectacular example of this (according to Halliday) was the collapse of
> volitionally planned economy in the Soviet Union, but a counter-example is
> the way the land reform was carried out in China in the 1950s (when
> Halliday was there and in which he took an active part).
> David Kellogg
> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> On 9 March 2015 at 21:31, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu> wrote:
>> Hi Annalisa,
>> I wonder if the role of culture is not so much in determining how we do
>> use tools as into how we should be wary of using tools.  Culture is by its
>> nature I think centripetal in nature.  Tools, especially such as the
>> Internet tend to be centrifugal.   Should we depend on culture to put
>> constraints on our uses.
>> There is a phrase I first heard two years ago that now I seem to hear
>> every other week,  "If you have a really good hammer, everything starts to
>> look like a nail."  Really good technologies start to make everything look
>> like a nail it seems - especially in our medicine show society where we run
>> towards the next barker/grafter before we are done cursing out the last for
>> the damage he/she has done.
>> I think in this sense Heidegger's "On the Question of Technology" is a
>> profound mea culpa that every person working in technology should be forced
>> to read and discuss on an annual basis - the dangers of becoming too
>> enamored with the hammer.
>> Culture has its own dangers thought that I think we also must own up to.
>> It wants to stay a centripetal force, bring everything back in, keep things
>> as they are.  The (perhaps dialectical) relationship between tools and
>> culture - I think Vygotsky caught the mood, these are the things both
>> dreams and nightmares are made of.
>> Michael
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
>> xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Annalisa Aguilar
>> Sent: Sunday, March 08, 2015 7:30 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Why Computers Make So Little Difference
>> Hi Michael,
>> Comparing the Internet to the printing press, they possess similarities,
>> but it would be like comparing a worldwide shipping system (with trucks,
>> trains, and ships, and docks, and longshore men, etc) to an Ancient
>> Egyptian chariot. Perhaps. I say that since only certain people could enjoy
>> chariots, which required at least a horse and a driver; not everyone had a
>> printing press, or a book, and few could read. Nothing about the printing
>> press itself that predicts distribution. That is more the desire for
>> knowledge, and at that time it was combined with the desire to know the
>> Bible. Other content came later. And then the judgements of who was allowed
>> to learn to read and to write (as well as to read and to write what).
>> It is an interesting project to compare them, however.
>> I would like to emphasize what you said, Michael, that we still don't know
>> what the Internet is doing to us. It is still not clear how the tool will
>> change us: how we will augment to tool and how it will change us in the
>> Möbius strip kind of way.
>> If it's OK, I would like to repeat something I said in the recent past
>> that I think that even Marx (or Vygotsky) could predict the Internet. Seems
>> Orwell was closer in some ways. In 1992, for example, I had no idea what
>> the WWW was. In 1994 I learned about BBS, FTP, newsgroups, and email,
>> though I know these tools were around a lot longer than when I learned of
>> it.
>> So if we can't know and we are here living through these developments in
>> real time, how could Marx? How could Vygotsky? I believe there is a quality
>> about these tools that does transcend their 19th and 20th century
>> consciousnesses. Some things are going to be constant, say that humans
>> still need food to eat. But do we need selfies? Do we need Facebook pages?
>> I liked your Mumfordesque comparison to clocks and how they changed our
>> sense of time, and their creation of boundaries where there are actually
>> none (or there are just signifiers of: sun out/sun not out). Of course, the
>> clock also changed how we sleep, since we can do things later by lamplight
>> (and later by lightbulb) and so we go to sleep later than we used to.
>> This is to point out that it isn't a tool in isolation that changes us,
>> but in the environment in which it appears, as well as other historic and
>> cultural realities and also how one tool interacts with other tools and
>> importantly with the people who use them. I take it everyone here already
>> knows that, so I don't meant to belabor that and give the impression that I
>> think you don't! :)
>> Kind regards,
>> Annalisa